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Achinta S. McDaniel

About this Artist

Achinta S. McDaniel is a powerful voice of the Indian diaspora, a pioneer of American dance, and the Founding Artistic Director of Blue13 Dance Company. A prolific choreographer, performer, and instructor, McDaniel’s powerful style draws from techniques including Bhangra, Kathak, Bollywood, Hip Hop, Ballet, Jazz, Tap, and Modern Dance. Her choreography is highly dramatic and a real reflection of her upbringing: Eastern and Western, exotic, mysterious, wild, rebellious and unconventional, traversing commercial, concert, and community engagement, and challenging monolithic representations of Indianness. Her work questions hierarchies of pop culture vs. high art, and is at once disobedient and joyful. She is known for her experimentation with international styles and for inventive staging of her signature contemporary Indian forms. McDaniel’s work is fearless and inventive, ever-exploring the boundaries of contemporary dance as a South Asian American woman.

McDaniel’s recent works include Terpsichore in Ghungroos, presented at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts; Restless autumn, restless spring., presented as part of the 2022 REDCAT New Original Works Festival; 1947, based on the partition of India and Pakistan; Sounds Like Whoop. Looks Like Flash., exploring invisible disability, addiction, and keeping up appearances; and Soliloquy, a multimedia collaboration with dancers, film, museums, and theater groups.

McDaniel, a faculty member at USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, teaches and choreographs for educational institutions across the U.S. She has worked as a choreographer for commercials and brands, including Madden NFL, Heineken, and Snapple, and has worked with artists The Strokes, DJ Snake, Timbaland, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, and A.R. Rahman at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl. Her TV/Film work includes So You Think You Can Dance, New Girl, and The Amazing Race. She designs live productions at Disney parks, and choreographs a multitude of projects in comedy, contemporary, and Bollywood and Bhangra dance styles.

Responsible for coining the “ABIDE” (Access, Belonging, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity) approach in the field, McDaniel’s research, pedagogy, and dance making centers the global majority, emphasizes women, and supports the collaborative decolonization of dance.